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Food For Thought: The Gut-Brain Connection

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

✍🏾 Mark William | Medical Advisor at BUPA Global

 

What is the Gut-Brain Connection? 🧠


The gut-brain connection refers to the link between the digestive tract (gut) and the central nervous system (brain and spine).

Recent studies have demonstrated that the gut influences many other areas of the body, including the brain.


A study published in the journal, Cell Reports, found that mice who had a disrupted gut microbiome exhibited symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease. The researchers concluded that changes in the gut microbiome may contribute to the development of neurological conditions.


 

What is the Gut? 🥭

The gut is also known as the digestive system.

It is made up of organs that food and liquids travel through when they are swallowed, digested, absorbed, and leave the body as faeces (💩). These organs include the mouth, pharynx (throat), oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus.


As explained in a previous article, the gut has a microbiome; trillions of microbes that play a crucial role in digestion, immune function, and overall health.


Research has also shown that the gut microbiome can influence the brain, with some scientists referring to it as the 'microbiome-gut-brain axis'.


 

How Does the Immune System Influence the Gut-Brain Connection? 🦠

The immune system is negatively affected by a unbalanced gut microbiome, which, in turn, impacts brain activity.


According to a study appearing in the journal, Nature Neuroscience, a hyperactive immune system causes behavioural and cognitive abnormalities in mice with a disturbed gut microbiome.


The gut microbiome is vital for controlling the immune system and preserving brain function.


 

How Can the Gut-Brain Connection Impact Overall Health? 🏥


The relationship between the gut and the brain is dynamic, intricate, and likely crucial to overall health.

Changes in the gut microbiome can impact behaviour, mood, and immune function, contributing to the formation of illnesses like depression, anxiety, and obesity.


Whilst current research is promising, there is still much to learn about the connection between the gut and the brain.


Research into holistic methods of improving gut health could consequently help improve the health of other areas of the body, such as the brain, as well as overall health.



 
Mark William, Content Writer at Grace Writes

Written by: Mark William (Content Writer)


Grace Pountney, Editor-in-Chief at Grace Writes

Edited by: Grace Pountney (Editor-in-Chief)


 

Science Suspicions

Each week, at Science Snapshot, we answer your Science questions!

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Q: How can I take care of my gut microbiota?

A: As the diversity of everyone’s gut microbiota is vastly different, it is difficult to define what a healthy gut microbiome should be for everyone. However, there may be some features of your flora that can be improved.


Check out this article to find out what you can try incorporating as part of a balanced diet:

 


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